A bandh (general strike) called by the pro-separatist Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) organization in Jammu and Kashmir state on Wednesday, March 20, resulted in widespread business and transportation disruptions as well as mobile internet service outages. JRL leaders called for the strike to denounce the killing of a teacher while in police custody on Monday, March 18. Local reports indicate internet services were throttled and disrupted in Srinagar and Budgam districts on Wednesday, while rail services were suspended in Kashmir for security reasons.
Associated protests are also slated to take place throughout Jammu and Kashmir state over the coming days. Demonstrations by multiple labor unions and civil society groups are expected on Thursday, March 21, while political groups have called for protests following afternoon prayers on Friday, March 22. Heightened security measures as well as business and transportation disruptions are expected throughout the region on March 21-22.
JRL recently staged a two-day bandh in late February following raids on separatist members, mass arrests, and threats to removing special rights to the state from the constitution. Separatists have been fighting Indian rule in Kashmir since 1989. Some 70,000 people have died and many more have been injured in related violence, uprisings, and military crackdowns. Recently, the Indian government has conducted several security operations in the region amid rising tensions and sporadic violence.
Individuals in Jammu and Kashmir are advised to remain vigilant for militant activity and Indian government security operations, refrain from discussing sensitive political topics in public or on social media, avoid all demonstrations due to the risk of violence or arrest, and adhere to all instructions (e.g. curfews, roadblocks, checkpoints, etc.) issued by local authorities and their home governments.
As a reminder, some Western governments advise their citizens against travel to parts of Kashmir, notably including areas along the Line of Control (LoC), due to the significant risk of violence.
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